In Andrew Warren suspension trial, Gov. DeSantis officials answer: What does ‘woke’ mean?

Warren DeSantis
'It's a slang term for activism, progressive activism.'

What does “woke” mean?

It’s a question liberals and progressives often would like to ask Republicans, whose ubiquitous use of the term “woke” — a phrase originally used by progressives to signify an awareness of racial and economic injustices endemic to U.S. society — has turned the word into a four-letter pejorative.

During the three-day trial this week challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, attorneys for Warren were able to put that question to aides for DeSantis, who called Florida the place where “woke goes to die” in his victory speech after being reelected last month.

Jean-Jacques Cabou, Warren’s attorney, noted DeSantis referred to Warren in his announcement of the suspension as a “woke ideologue” who “masqueraded” as a prosecutor. Then he asked some DeSantis officials what “woke” means to them.

Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ Communications Director said “woke” was a “slang term for activism … progressive activism” and a general belief in systemic injustices in the country.

Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ General Counsel, echoed the part about systemic injustices, specifically regarding the criminal justice system.

“To me it means someone who believes that there are systemic injustices in the criminal justice system and on that basis they can decline to fully enforce and uphold the law,” Newman said.

Asked what “woke” means more generally, Newman said “it would be the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”

Newman added that DeSantis doesn’t believe there are systemic injustices in the U.S. He also emphasized he believed Warren’s “wokeism” led him to sign the pledge not to prosecute abortion crimes, the primary factor that led to his suspension.

Using “prosecutorial discretion” to not prosecute an entire class of crimes is a “fundamental misunderstanding” of how a prosecutor’s discretion can be used, Newman said. And that pledge meant that DeSantis had to suspend Warren because DeSantis must ensure the law is enforced.

The trial over Warren’s suspension ended Thursday, and U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle said he will likely take at least two weeks to render a decision in the case. Warren has asked the court to reinstate him because the suspension violated his First Amendment rights.

Gray Rohrer


  • Joe Corsin

    December 2, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    You better get woke or go broke Tom! Yeah gon kick ye balls from your head round the back of your azz. Split ye acorns off the side of your face!

    • Glenn Strachan

      December 4, 2022 at 11:54 am

      You appear to have anger issues, Joe. Perhaps you need to be watched by the police because that anger will work its way out to really hurt someone.

    • Daniel Taylor

      December 4, 2022 at 8:57 pm

      The bootlicking is strong in this one.

  • G. Fardella

    December 2, 2022 at 11:12 pm

    Andrew Warren does not have the right to decide under “discretion” what laws to enforce or not. If AG Warren has the right not to enforce abortion laws, then he could also decline to put people in prison for the George Floyd riots. Many Hillsborough County citizens believe he did not enforce anti-riot laws and let people off the hook, despite clear violations. perhaps Warren’s role model is our president, who routinely disregards enforcing the laws about the southern border. This attitude, on the part of too many on the left is what “woke” means. Question: should the citizens decide not to pay taxes under the idea or “discretion?” What would happen to our way of life if there was mass are refusal to pay taxes. AG Warren is clearly following the role model of President Biden. Warren was correctly fired and perhaps Biden should be impeached…

    • John

      December 3, 2022 at 7:51 am

      January 06 rioters included right…

    • Elliott Offen

      December 3, 2022 at 8:47 am

      If there was a mass refusal to pay taxes then you’d all be charged with crimes or otherwise they’d get the money one way or another. The anti tax movement has no merit, it’s socially irresponsible, greedy, and antisocial. High taxes on upper income earners built the middle class. Without that, it going away. It’s that simple. Rich keep getting richer and everyone else is fked. Trickle down is a myth.

      • GB

        December 4, 2022 at 10:03 am

        So right on, when the rich pay their fair share it trickles down which helps EVERYONE. People in trailer parks voting GOP prove that they are uneducated and unable to understand what their party is doing to them. This is where the Dems need to focus.

    • GB

      December 4, 2022 at 10:00 am

      How did you feel about the terrorist trump attack on the capitol January 6? Hypocrite!

    • marcyrw

      December 4, 2022 at 12:17 pm

      You’re wrong. Every prosecutor has the right to decline to prosecute. It’s called “prosecutorial discretion”. Think about it: If prosecutors did NOT have that right, then a politician could dictate who to prosecute, like their political enemies or a certain class of people they are bigoted against. That’s why prosecutorial discretion is SO important. It’s for the people’s protection against political or unconstitutional overreach. It’s an indispensable feature of any functioning legal system for fair and equal justice.

    • T Hudson

      December 4, 2022 at 12:28 pm

      Sorry Fardella, but prosecutors DO have the right to decide what laws to enforce. All over Florida, some counties are routinely reducing first-offense DUI’s to reckless driving. Many counties do not enforce simple possession of cannabis. This is basic prosecutorial discretion.

      • Ron Sheckler

        December 5, 2022 at 6:38 pm

        In 2005 The Tampa Bay prosecutor refused to waste any more taxpayers money on prostitution arrests after 3 trials in a row were unsuccessful by jury nullification. The precedent has been set in Florida!

    • Nick

      December 4, 2022 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to let the world know you don’t know what “woke” means. There’s lots of great info out there about its usage, primarily in the Black community beginning in the early 20th century. Check it out!

    • Kyle

      December 4, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      You are truly an utter mess of right wing rhetoric. You named literally every fake grievance imaginable. Next time, though, accuse Warren of working with the Jews to replace you with colored people so you can hit the trifecta.

    • AltamonteDrew

      December 5, 2022 at 4:18 am

      Sigh. 🙄

      During his four-year term, Trump used Title 42 to remove 500,000 asylum seekers. Year one alone, Biden’s administration deported 700,000 migrants.

      But sure, keep up with your “alternative facts”

    • M. Hyde

      December 5, 2022 at 11:42 am

      Quite a theory.
      In your research to uncover of examples of politicians who disregard rules they don’t want to follow, did you come across an obscure fellow called “Trump”? Turns out while he was President he routinely ignored every law he didn’t want to follow and this included taking classified material from office after his term was over!

      Maybe you should think about starting to clean the ethical mess that is the Republican party before you cast stones.

    • TraitorTrump

      December 5, 2022 at 2:37 pm

      Bigots, cowards and traitors. Today’s GOQP, DeSantis, and the Deplorables that still pretend to be patriotic Americans. Less than pond scum, cosplaying human.

    • William Warburton

      December 5, 2022 at 3:09 pm

      What law at Southern Border is not being informed. They have returned to Mexico 2 million immigrants. Are you talking about people crossing the border and claiming Asylum according to the laws of the United States of America. You probably don’t even know that Obama was known as deporter in law when he doubled the amount deported than the Bush Administration.

    • Marcel Kincaid

      December 6, 2022 at 10:47 pm

      A simple way to understand that argument and every right wing argument is that right wingers are lying sociopaths. Prosecutors have always had discretion.

    • FTM

      December 7, 2022 at 6:41 am

      If a law is unjust a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so. — Thomas Jefferson

  • Damien McLeod

    December 3, 2022 at 11:49 pm

    Those who are against Progressive Activism (Woke) are by default in favor of systematic injustice which make DeSantis and his follow Republicans the Orc’s and Gobelins they so obviously are – monsters in our midst so to speak. Wanting to get rid of monsters so that good decent folk than thrive is difficult. Does anyone have any suggestions? Florida has long been in need of a Green Wave to preserve of beautiful state.

    • Elliott Offen

      December 4, 2022 at 8:15 am

      DeSantis is merely a reflection of his constituents. You’d have to nuke certain parts of Florida to put a dent in the problem… problem being degenerate stupidity and people completely given over to right wing propaganda and poor culture.

      • Brenda Porter

        December 4, 2022 at 2:08 pm

        That’s right! Warren was elected by the citizens of Hillsborough County. He has committed no crime, nor has he declined to prosecute anyone under that law. Pretty sure the Governor does not have the authority to overturn the will of the peoploe in this case. That’s democracy at work folks. Who knows who his next target will be?

    • Ron Sheckler

      December 5, 2022 at 6:42 pm

      Nature is giving them a storm surge and a tidal wave that is washing them into the ocean. Kind of like flushing a toilet to put the Orange Turd where he belongs!

  • Boaz

    December 4, 2022 at 1:37 am

    As President Obama aptly put it, “Elections have consequences”; and this is but one example.

    • MH/Duval

      December 5, 2022 at 8:10 am

      Before Obama said it, Dick Cheney said it, and then he and George W gave the wealthy a huge tax cut and invaded two countries.

  • Dave

    December 4, 2022 at 2:27 am

    I hope DeSantis runs in 2024, increasing the likelihood that someone kills the clown.

    • GB

      December 4, 2022 at 10:01 am

      You mean Trump? I hope he does too, neither can win nationally.

    • Nick

      December 4, 2022 at 2:52 pm

      Please don’t say things like this. Besides the possibility of you getting a visit from the Secret Service, it’s not helpful to bring up the specter of this type of situation.
      Even if one thinks he is evil and dangerous, assassination could turn him into a martyr and further radicalize these fascists. Better to destroy him in the market place of ideas. The pen is more powerful than the sword.

    • Logic Fairy

      December 6, 2022 at 9:11 am

      Not going to happen, because Democrats aren’t hate-filled murderers. We had Scalise gunned down at that softball game by a Bernie supporter, and before that…What? I can’t think of any con who’s been shot between Scalise and Reagan, and Reagan doesn’t count because that guy wasn’t political, just crazy. And before that? Can’t think of anyone else at all.

  • MariaJack

    December 4, 2022 at 3:06 am


  • MariaJack

    December 4, 2022 at 3:07 am

    I’m making a decent compensation from home $60k/week , which is astonishing under a year prior I was jobless in a horrendous economy. I say thanks to God consistently I was honored with these guidelines and presently it’s my obligation to show preemptive kindness and offer it with Everyone,
    , GOOD LUCK.:)
    Here is I begun.… … ……>> 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐫𝟎𝟏.𝐩𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬.𝐝𝐞𝐯/

  • OrionAntares

    December 4, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    It would be worth noting the use of the term originated specifically with Black progressives. That also helps to explain why the Right-wing latched on to try to turn it into a purjorative.

    • Marcel Kincaid

      December 6, 2022 at 10:52 pm

      Actually Black musicians. “be woke” simply meant to be aware of the deadly threat to Blacks from racist whites.

  • Glenn Strachan

    December 4, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    If not being afraid to share this country with people of color then call me woke. If it means that I admit to the fact that many injustices, based on race, have occurred to minorities in the USA then call me woke. If the acceptance of gay people being allowed to love and marry and not have to justify it to anyone, then call me woke. If accepting the fact that White Europeans came to America, traded in slavery, and killed off native-Americans, then call me woke.

    • Lynn

      December 4, 2022 at 12:58 pm

      I’m with you!!! We should embrace people from different ethnic groups , cultures, — just as we have traditions given to us by our ancestors…..we can learn so much about the world by embracing/learning others traditions, food, etc….doesn’t mean anyone is ‘forcing’ their culture on me/us – it’s called sharing. And if you choose not to – that’s your choice but don’t put YOUR prejudices/fears on the rest of us!!

    • Marcel Kincaid

      December 6, 2022 at 10:53 pm

      These days, “woke” just means “not a sociopath”.

  • skip1515

    December 4, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    So many responsibly derived statistics indicate, clearly, that systemic injustices prevail that for any governor who says they work for *all* their state’s citizens to claim otherwise is virtually dereliction of duty.

  • Frankie M.

    December 4, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    The great thing for neocons is that “woke” can mean anything they want it to be. This is a post-truth society we’re living in after all.

  • Galeno

    December 5, 2022 at 5:23 am

    Woke means mentally retarded. Ridiculous. Crazy. E.g. genZ nutjobs on “Libs of TikTok talking about their gender pronouns.

    • Marcel Kincaid

      December 6, 2022 at 10:55 pm

      People who are “woke” are those who aren’t sociopathic garbage.

  • Brenda Porter

    December 5, 2022 at 6:57 am

    The world must be a very scary & isolated place for you. I hope things will work soon

  • UncaDon

    December 5, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    So someone explain how a prosecutor deciding not to prosecute certain types of crimes is any different than “constitutional sheriffs” deciding not to enforce laws that they deem not constitutional?

  • LizB

    December 5, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    “One self-own coming right up, Your Honor…” is this what they pay you the big bucks for, Ryan????

  • Charlie Adams in Kentucky

    December 5, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    “Woke” is just the latest buzzword used by the fascist propaganda machine to try and convince their inbred, bigoted, spiteful cultists that being a decent human being is a Bad Thing.

    • Marcel Kincaid

      December 6, 2022 at 10:57 pm

      Exactly, like “Politically Correct”, “Social Justice Warrior”, “lib”, and in days past “peacenik”. (And further back: “n_____ lover”.)

  • Don Lepinsky

    December 10, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    I recently read an article published by where Florida governor Ron DeSantis slams woke Disney. I also watched a PBS NewsHour segment where Governor DeSantis stated that Florida is where woke goes to die. So, what is woke? Woke may be defined as; “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social injustice)” (Merriam-Webster 2017). Governor DeSantis general counsel, Ryan Newsome, when asked what woke means stated in a recent trial that “It would be the belief that there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them” (Florida Politics, 12/3/2022, para. 9).
    Why would politicians promote anti-woke policies which prevent elector awareness of facts and issues? Maybe their opinions and ideology lack substance, so they attempt to bury opposing opinions with restrictions, name calling, derogatory statements, theatre and misinformation to influence the vote of an unaware populist. Woke restrictions could very well morph into constraints on basic rights, and maybe even raise a call to suspend portions of the constitution. Equality, liberty and justice for all? Apparently not in Florida.

Comments are closed.


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